February 10th, 2010
12:45 PM ET
5 years ago

Hank Paulson doesn't do 'second-guessing'

Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recounts his experiences in a new book.
Former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recounts his experiences in a new book.

Washington (CNN) – For a man who long championed free markets, the irony of being known as the architect of the greatest government intervention into markets in history sits just fine with former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Paulson says he'd rather be the architect of the bailouts than the Treasury secretary who presided over the second Great Depression.

"The president in his state of the union address captured the mood of the country when he said Republicans hate these, Democrats hate these, I hate them, and just let me tell you I hated them," Paulson says. "But they were much better than the alternative and you know what they worked. Because we needed working with imperfect tools and authorities ... we were able to cobble together enough to prevent the system from collapsing and avoid disaster."

Paulson recounts the moments when Citigroup was failing and he was in Santa Barbara, walking through the Reagan Library - "that temple of free-market thinking" and was struck by the irony of the moment.

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Filed under: Henry Paulson
soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. sonny chapman

    Repubs. take note-this is what a real 'Country First" person looks like.

    February 10, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  2. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    Yes the bailouts (all six of them between 2007 and 2009) worked just fine to save the criminals from going broke. I still do not believe they have done anything for mainstreet. Under employment is above 20%, homelessness up, hunger up, and the american dream gone.
    And what happened to all those criminals investigations of the FBI? We were told back in 2008 they had hundreds of cases to bring to justice. so many investigations tha they were understaffed to complete them. We were told there was going to be arrests, convictions for the crimes that lead to this meltdown. What have we had, three maybe four arrests to day?
    This was nothing more than the wealthy bailing out the wealthy with taxpayers money.

    February 10, 2010 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  3. Yurdad

    Paulson also said if John McCain had lead opposition to the financial market bail "we" wouldn't have got it. All they've done is give taxpayer money to banks who do not loan and buy T bills (as well as smaller banks) instead. Nothing meaningful has been done to prevent another "crisis" and reckless gambling with other folks money will continue. More "bail outs" are coming.

    February 10, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  4. Brian L

    Republicans would prefer a depression rather than bailouts!

    February 10, 2010 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. If you want something ruined, put a republican in charge

    I am beginning to think that the republicans really did want a depression.

    February 10, 2010 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  6. Ferret out the BS

    I think Americans need to stop trying to fix blame, but understand what occurred, and move forward to prevent it from happening again. It is easy to point fingers and say "would've, could've, or should've" but that still doesn't fix the problem. Despite what many in this country our leaders are trying to keep the economic situation from deteriorating and collapsing but also trying to move the economy forward as well back into a growth cycle. The term of the fixes are temporary but they have to have time to work, nothing is instantaneous as much as many would believe.

    February 10, 2010 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Mr. Paulson, how about explaining that to the Tea Party idiots. These fools would have rather seen the entire system collapse.

    February 10, 2010 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. di

    The architect of the World Depression. All had their head in the sand. No cahnge left!

    February 10, 2010 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    We need to stop these companies and banks from paying out million dollar bonuses which they don't deserve. Whoever heard of paying people for failure and using the excuse if we don't pay them they will go to other companies. Employees who worked for Enron are proof they couldn't gain employment after it's failure.

    February 10, 2010 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  10. Rick McDaniel

    This will likely still become known as the second Great depression, before all is said and done, as nothing is truly being done to solve the problem for citizens.

    There are no jobs, most stimulus monies went to foreign companies, and there is no relief in sight, for the ordinary American.

    February 10, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  11. MikeH

    Arrest that man.

    He presided over one of the biggest thefts of national wealth in this country's history.

    MathewDetroit, you're unhinged man, go get some professional help before you do serious harm.

    February 10, 2010 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. B

    Except -Elmer Fudd- let it get completely out of hand before doing anything..

    February 10, 2010 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. LouAz

    Just like his pal Greenspan . . . Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain !.

    February 10, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  14. james Miller

    Hell no he doesn`t second guess !!! He knew exactly what he was doing the first time.

    February 10, 2010 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  15. hadelaide

    This was a case of the necessary evil. We've all been there at some point or another. However, it is his party that is demonizing the fact that drastic measures had to be taken. The low information bats are flying high on their own stupidity and trying to take down the country at the same time.

    February 10, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  16. Slave labor toyotas are great,hahaha

    Dont make me laugh,the temple of Reagan the great spender?,The same one that raised taxes and tripled the debt.He better check his facts.Reagan was a loser.Reagan just used his credit card and left the bill for whoever came after him,just like Nancy left him the bill when she went shopping and ran the government at the same time.

    February 10, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Dave

    No, Mr. Paulson, you were the Treasury Secretary that presided over the biggest con this country has ever seen. All the while, you threatend congress with martial law if they didn't fork over billions that ended up enriching your bankster friends.

    February 10, 2010 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  18. People power

    Henry Paulson is an ex CEO of Goldman and he not only made sure his earlier employer statyed alive but also lavished them with our tax payer dollars tthough back door – AIG Contracts. He killed all GS competitors. Every one knows how much of Bonus these GS employees make now & will continue to do in our dine.

    He did not avert second Great Depression but filled the pocket of his buddies and helped himself. Can some one investiage his personal gains ?

    February 10, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |